Finalewatch: 'Greatest American Dog'

Travis_presley_gad_240 Oh, Greatest American Dog. I go away for two lousy weeks (thanks for covering, Tamara!), and while I'm gone you eliminate my favorite pair? Uncool. Bill and Star were the sweetest pair of reality show contestants I think I've ever seen, aside from being talented competitors. Let's all pause for a moment in remembrance before moving on to the finale. [Single tear] ...Okay.

The contestants face the judges and are informed that there will be two Best in Show challenges this week. First, an interview with the judges. They grill Laurie about her relationship with Andrew, among other things, and test Andrew on his ability to socialize with another dog without Laurie present. Of course, he immediately runs away to go find Laurie, but then does pretty well.

The judges ask JD a lot about growth and learning, as well as his training techniques. They're appalled to find out that he only bathes Galaxy a couple times a year. Yeah, ew. I mean, I know wet dog smells bad, but dirty dog must smell worse! Travis faces questions about why they're in the competition and what they've done right, and Presley gets tested on his "leave it" abilities. He does a killer job. 

The judges criticize JD's dominant training techniques, Travis's ability to focus Presley, and Andrew's dependent relationship with Laurie. Shockingly, JD and Galaxy are eliminated. Wow. Good news for Laurie--do we even need to watch the rest of the episode? JD is surprised at the result (as am I) and a little mad at what he sees as a misconception of his training style.

Jd_galaxy_gad_240 Hmm. It's hard to say without seeing him with Galaxy in person, and I'm generally inclined to trust that what everyone said was true, but I really didn't notice the extreme dominance that everyone's talking about. And Galaxy was pretty clearly the most obedient and capable dog in the group. So I guess what I'm saying is that if the dominance thing is true, I agree with the result. But only if it's really true, and I don't think I can judge that from this side of the screen.

After expressing their surprise and satisfaction at JD's elimination (yeah, I bet), Laurie and Travis practice with their dogs. And it's a good thing, since part one of the final challenge is a giant obstacle course with a grand finish: Susie the elephant. They'll be judged on owner's use of commands, owner's proximity to dog, overall performance, and overall progress at Canine Academy.

Presley does a great job with most of the obstacles, but has trouble retrieving his toy from under the elephant. Andrew, on the other hand, balks a bit at the teeter-totter and wobble board, and Laurie lifts him onto the jumping platforms. However, he has no problem getting his toy from under Susie. Back in the arena, all the eliminated contestants and their dogs are there to watch. The judges ding Travis for Presley's focus problems, and Laurie for Andrew's tentative performance in the beginning due to her hovering.

Laurie_andrew_gad_240 In the final part of the challenge, the judges ask Laurie again about Andrew's separation anxiety, and ask Travis about Presley being so young. The answers are about what you'd expect. All these interviews are a little too Miss America for me, to be honest. Give them more actual challenges! They judges talk about how great each contestant would be as an ambassador for all of dogdom before declaring Presley the Greatest American Dog.

Wait, really? I did not see that coming. Laurie has a great attitude about it, and Presley is adorably excited. I guess Travis said it best: "The Greatest American Dog doesn't have to be perfect." The judges clearly wound up going on personality and relationship rather than training, which works for me.

What do you think about the final result? Was Galaxy robbed? Or are you still mourning Bill and Star's absence?

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